Divorce lawyers say male love cheats still outnumber female ones in cases
where adultery is cited as a reason for separation - but women are catching
Traditionally housewives stayed at home and it was easy for cheating
husbands to pretend they were working late or going away for work-related
events such as conferences.
But now, many professional women have the same freedom and independence to
cover their tracks if they have an affair.
Working in offices also brings them into contact with more men than
housewives or production-line workers would have met a generation or more
Divorce lawyer Wendy Hopkins said, "Women are not outnumbering men yet, but
they're catching up.
"It used to be more men than women who had relationships, because they were
out of the home.
"There are more women working on their careers now. Women are in jobs now
that men are doing. They have the freedoms that they didn't previously have
in the workplace."
She said married women were having affairs with married or single men.
"There are more women in the workplace, in positions where they're equal
with men or doing the same things as men. They are equals, as opposed to
A married woman working as a secretary would not have the same opportunities
for an affair as a married woman in a high-flying job.
"If you're the secretary, you always go home at 5pm," said Mrs Hopkins, of
Cardiff-based practice Hopkins Law.
"Professional women have got a good reason to be going home late, or going
away on business."
Katie McColgan, head of the family law department at the Berry Smith
practice, in Bridgend and Cardiff, said married women having affairs would
typically have tried hard to make their marriage work.
"When they get to their 30s and older, they think, 'I'm worth more than
this. I don't have to put up with this rubbish'.
"If someone pays them some attention, they think, 'I've got options'.
"Women are more independent now, emotionally and financially.
"For professional women particularly, but even lower down the employment
level, it's quite common for Welsh couples to have two separate bank
"Because financially they're likely to get a better share of the pot when
they do get divorced, women feel more confident to break free."
Women could also start affairs on nights out with colleagues.
"Traditionally it was the woman who stayed at home and quite commonly the
man would be out with his mates down the pub. She didn't have any
opportunity really, because she was always at home.
"Now there's a lot more women going out in groups, leaving the chaps at home
"I would think a lot more very upset men are finding out now that their
wives are having affairs than 20 years ago."
She said learning about an affair could often be a big shock to cuckolded
"Because men aren't perhaps such good communicators, they don't always
understand when the women aren't very happy," she said. "Women will
sometimes have affairs because they're not happy and it comes as a bombshell
to the husband, even though she's probably shown her unhappiness before
Katie added that some men would seek divorce, while others would try to ride
it out. Women had similar reactions, but would draw the line if a serial
adulterer had an affair too close to home.
"Instead of it being a secretary at work or someone from the next town, if
it's suddenly someone from the same village and the husband is taking her
out to the local pub, the woman won't turn a blind eye to it then," she